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Lost is found for Medford car lot

A Medford used car lot has suffered two thefts in a week, but the owner says turnaround was just as fast.

Daniel Medina, co-owner of Wright's Auto Sales in downtown Medford, said Medford police had located the second of two cars reported stolen from his lot in late June.

“For me to have two cars stolen in just a few days, it was a big shock,” Medina said.

The second theft occurred Wednesday in plain sight, when a woman whose identity remains unknown provided the lot with a stolen driver's license to test drive a red 2000 Nissan Maxima. 

"She never came back," Medina said.

The sedan was recovered at 6:45 a.m. Thursday at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Central Point.

Medford police had recovered a Chevrolet pickup belonging to the lot just last week.

On June 21, Medford police found the stolen 2004 Silverado 2500 near the Medford Bi-Mart. Two suspects were apprehended, Justin Ray Dodd, whose jail bracelet from a previous incarceration was allegedly found next to the driver's seat belt, and Garrett William Melton, who admitted to riding in the car. A third suspect remains at large, court documents show.

Nearly $20,000 in stolen rare coins were recovered from the truck, and Dodd allegedly carried more than 100 grams of heroin in a backpack, according to court records.

The truck was taken overnight days prior, Medina said. It was the first time a vehicle had been taken from the lot without a key. 

Medford police Lt. Kerry Curtis said as soon as a vehicle is reported stolen, police enter the car's information into a national computer database. However, most vehicles stolen in the county are found in the Rogue Valley, Curtis said.

"It's pretty uncommon for us not to recover a car within a month or so," Curtis said.

Curtis said officers are briefed weekly on the roughly five to 10 stolen vehicles still unaccounted for at any given time, and communicate via teletype to nearby agencies.

"The information-sharing part is important," Curtis said.

Although Hondas from the 1990s have a reputation as being vulnerable to thieves, Curtis said he sees no common theme in the cars that are stolen. A recent "hot sheet" Curtis had handy listed vehicles including a Suzuki, Buick LeSabre and a Chevrolet Silverado.

"It's a pretty wide range," Curtis said. "We don't see just Honda Civics or Honda Accords."

Medina commended the quick work of police finding his lot's vehicles, saying it saved him considerable money compared with the last theft the lot suffered in 2013, in which the truck wasn't recovered. The lot paid an insurance deductible of $2,500, plus lost the roughly $1,500 spent prior to the theft getting the vehicle into salable condition.

"In all reality, it's a big loss," Medina said.

In contrast, the recovered Nissan will cost Medina $210 in towing and impound costs. Replacing the ignition switch and detailing the Silverado cost him $380.

“It saves a lot of money to the community,” Medina said of the police's efforts.

Curtis said most vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity. To avoid theft, he advised drivers not to store valuables in cars, not to leave cars unattended and not to keep spare keys in the car.

Curtis also advised drivers to memorize their license plate number, saying it can slow a theft investigation when the owner doesn't readily have the information.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Justin Ray Dodd